With tight feed supplies, management becomes critical. But everyday waste also costs you money over time. Winter-feeding can be the toughest on a producer's management skills due to unending questions of when to feed more or less to economically sustain the cowherd. Here are some tips to reduce waste and increase herd health.

* Use hay rings to keep animals from trampling good feed into the ground. If you unroll or hand feed hay, provide only the amount that can be consumed in one day.

* Knowing when to feed more hay can be difficult. Sometimes the last 25 percent of a hay bale may be weather damaged or spoiled with low nutritive value. Forcing cattle to eat that damaged hay will decrease production efficiency in the long run. Conversely, feeding more hay before cattle have eaten the good part is wasteful.

* Walking through mud burns energy quickly, decreasing performance and body condition. Avoid continuously feeding in the same place. Look for rock outcrops or old roadbeds to feed on when possible.